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Stenographic Account of the Soviet-Czechoslovak Summit Meeting in Moscow, May 4-5, 1968
Our Source: Navratil, Jaromir. "The
Prague Spring 1968". Hungary: Central European Press, 1998, pp. 114-125
Original Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, Z/S 2; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 1, pp. 165-191.
Translated by: Mark Kramer, Joy Moss and Ruth Tosek
Comment: Brezhnev called for a meeting between Soviet and Czechoslovakia after Marshal Yakubovskii left Czechoslovakia without consent from Prague to host the military exercises the same month. These are translated excerpts from the stenographic account of that day.
Minutes of Talks with ČSSR Delegation, 4 May 1968
Representing the Czechoslovak side in the talks: Cdes. A. Dubček, O. Černik, J. Smrkovský, V. Bilák.
Representing the Soviet side: Cdes. L.I. Brezhnev, A. N. Kosygin, N. V. Podgorny, K. F. Katushev, K. V. Rusakov.
/…/ Dubček: In brief, after the April plenum the people's trust in the communist party increased. This is the most important thing for us; we regard it as our real source of strength. The changes carried out were entirely necessary. It was impossible to confine ourselves to less. Now it is essential that Cde. Novotný leave the Central Committee. The regional party conferences objected to the fact that the January plenary decisions are not being fulfilled systematically. We are accelerating work to prepare the party congress. Its exact date has not yet been decided. This will be done at the CC plenum in May. According to the statutes, the congress should be held in 1970, but we'll have to hold it earlier.
Kosygin: Will it be an extraordinary congress?
Dubček: It will be an extraordinary, pre-term one, but the main thing is not the interval at which the congress takes place. The important thing is the content of its work and what problems will be discussed. We will have to consider, among other things, several questions of a constitutional nature (that of the federation), the question of the party statutes, and other issues concerning the future work of the party. At present we are busy putting together a plan on how to prepare for the congress. We'll try to finish this work by the end of the year or in the spring of 1969. There are many questions that simply cannot be resolved without calling a congress.
Podgorny: Some regional conferences have urged that the congress be held this year. What is the CC Presidium's response to that?
Dubček: We still don't know when we'll finish preparations and so we still haven't considered the date, but we want to hold the congress as soon as possible. The need to bring the congress forward to 1968 was approved by two conferences: one in Brno and the other in Prague. As for the necessity of calling an extraordinary congress: any congress, if we convene it before 1970, will be an extraordinary, pre-term one. This is essential because we face large and complicated problems. And linked to this is the fact that we have to put off elections to the National Assembly, which had been planned for the autumn, to a later date.
Podgorny: But only one thing is important for those who want an extraordinary congress: to bring about changes in the present composition of the CC.
Dubček: We reject the demand to hold congresses only for such purposes. All the resolutions of the regional party conferences now speak not only about a new composition of the CC, but also about ways of solving certain problems, in particular problems connected with the situation in industry and agriculture.
And now, if you don't object, I'll briefly describe the situation in our industry and agriculture.
Podgorny: Excuse me, Cde. Dubček, but we wish to know what is happening with regard to radio, television, and the press. One gets the impression nowadays that anyone who wants to can be heard speaking about anything he pleases. Is it possible that the means of mass information and propaganda, including Rudé právo, have fully slipped out of your control?
Dubček: That was why we instructed the government to strengthen the leadership of these media. I am dealing with this myself; I had a talk with the staff of Rudé právo. I especially emphasized that this paper is the organ of the Central Committee. I asked them directly whether they wished to work independently of the CC. The talk was lively and good. We are drafting a special proposal to improve the work of Rudé právo. At the Presidium session on 14 May we will consider that proposal. Communists working in these organs should assume greater responsibility.
Podgorny: It is very important that the press, radio, and television remain under the control of the Central Committee, and that they carry out its wishes. Otherwise, any solution will be only so many words.
Dubček: We see this and are taking appropriate measures. The government is dealing with this, as I've already told you.
Podgorny: Does the government have the power to change the situation in this sector? After all, this is a question of ideology and personnel – that is, it's a matter that the Central Committee should have handled.
Dubček: It’s necessary to issue special laws, which is a matter for the government to handle. But we in the CC Presidium are also dealing with this matter.
Katushev: And how are things as regards the CPCz’s influence on the press organs of the other political parties, the organs of the Writers' Union, and so forth?
Dubček: That's a task that can't be completed in a single day, but we'll deal with it.
Kosygin: Do you intend to change the personnel working in the organs of the mass media?
Dubček: Yes, that's being planned. We'll also conduct our work also with the communists in the press organs of the Writers' Union and others, and especially those in the publishing houses. In Slovakia, the situation overall is better. Influential authors there are firmly upholding party positions and are resisting anti-party acts. The Writers' Union in Slovakia has a strong and authoritative party branch, which is speaking out firmly against ideological subversion. We intend to place a newspaper at its disposal. In Prague, there are more petty bourgeois elements among the writers and not a strong enough party core. In the writers' organ published in Prague, Literární listy, there are two tendencies: a bid to set up a political opposition, and an effort to halt uncontrolled democracy. We will rely on the Slovak writers. In a word, on this issue I personally and the other comrades have much to do. We'll have to speak systematically with influential figures.
We intend to go over the matter of Mňačko. If he returns, we'll criticize him. He was condemned not long ago by the Slovak Writers' Union.
Cde. Smrkovský will also deal directly with questions relating to writers.
Kosygin: Was any decision adopted about the responsibility of editors?
Dubček: You mean to imprison them, or what? The only real solution is to work with them as we did in Bratislava. That's the only way out of the situation, to win them over to our side. I will have to work personally with these people and speak to them. In Prague, I don't have such a strong position in these circles, and past roots are stronger there than in Slovakia. On the whole, comrades, we regard the situation to be complicated and difficult.
Now, as concerns our industry and agriculture. How do matters stand at the end of the first quarter? The plan for industry in the first quarter was not only fulfilled but over fulfilled by 7 – or perhaps – 6 percent. The quality indices are also good. The relationship between the growth of productivity and wages continues to improve. In agriculture the plan is also being fulfilled. Spring planting went on successfully. But, as the saying goes, don't count your chickens before they're hatched.
For a long time in our country there was stagnation in the economy. Only in 1964 did a slight improvement begin, as you know.
It should be said that there is considerable interest in our economic affairs among different firms, including firms in influential circles in the FRG and other Western countries. They are determined to offer us aid, credits, and so on. There have also been personal contacts, in particular with West German social democrats. Matters have advanced so far that a representative of Brandt came to our Central Committee, to Cde. Jozef Lenárt, and asked that he be received for talks. We discussed this among ourselves and decided not to receive him."
Such interest indicates, above all, that West Germany is looking for new markets and outlets for capital investment. Of course, they want to use economic levers for political ends as well. This accounts for their concern about our economy, a situation that they know very well.
Podgorny: This, of course, isn't real help but an effort to exploit their influence. They’re less interested in new markets.
Dubček: I know, I know. This is help in quotation marks, that was how I used the word.
Brezhnev: Some of the socialist countries have already experienced such "help," and then they didn't know how to cope with the consequences.
Podgorny: There's no such thing as a free lunch.
Dubček: We should of course remember that even earlier there were certain economic contacts between some West German firms and us. This is more or less normal, provided that it is carried on within well-defined parameters. It even led to overtures by some of West Germany's competitors, especially the French. We have a somewhat different attitude to them, taking into account France's policy. On the whole, we support the expansion of economic ties, above all with the Soviet Union as well as with the other socialist countries. This is important economically, strategically, and in other ways. It is important for the future development of our economy. I wish to emphasize here, once again, that the CPCz and the government of Czechoslovakia will not retreat an inch from cooperation with the Soviet Union. And I must also say that we will not manage without an internal injection to support our economy. The enemies are counting on the fact that we will not succeed in improving our economic affairs and that this will leave us vulnerable.
We ask you, comrades, to consider and then to decide, perhaps during the visit of our party-state delegation, the question of providing Czechoslovakia with long-term credits in convertible currency. We have in mind a credit period of 8, 10, and 15 years. We also ask that you examine the question of increasing supplies to us this year of wheat, an increase of approximately 300,000 tons above what was already agreed upon by treaty. /…/
Brezhnev: Nowadays one hears more frequent talk about some sort of "new model of socialism" that has not existed until now. It’s as if there should no longer be the kind of socialism built by the CPCz in the course of many years, based on the working class. Is it not for these aims that Western credits are being offered to you?
Less than a week after the new CC Presidium was elected, there were louder and louder cries that some Presidium member was a conservative, another a traitor, and President Svoboda was even elevated to being "an enemy of the people"! These loudmouths don't even spare Cde. Smrkovský, who was just elected chairman of the National Assembly; and even Cde. Dubček is not to their liking. Someone must be methodically organizing this wild mayhem.
In such circumstances, comrades, it's especially important to maintain unity in the CC Presidium itself. Such unity is the basis for success. To our dismay we see signs that imply a lack of such unity. For example, Cde. Dubček gave a good speech at the regional party conference in Brno, but immediately after him, the central committee secretary Cde. Císař spoke and said just the opposite. This, of course, is an isolated instance, but it tells us something. The mistakes made in the past should be rectified. That is not the issue. If someone was unjustifiably humiliated, then matters should be rectified. But the problem is not this. By the way, I'd like to mention the following. Don't imagine that we here are acting in the role of some sort of defenders of Cde. Novotný. I officially inform you here in the name of our Politburo that we are not.
There were attempts to cast a suspicious cloud over my visit to Prague in December of last year. This visit took place after an invitation was extended to me in the name of the CPCz CC Presidium, and I accepted it with the intention of taking a short rest and getting in a bit of hunting, as well as having a comradely exchange of views on general themes. But once I was in Prague I unexpectedly found myself in the very midst of events that were reaching a climax. When I learned that it was a matter of a proposal to separate the posts of CC first secretary and president of the country, I immediately said that I saw no problems arising from it. As you know, the separation of leading party and state has been carried out in our country, and also by the Hungarians and the Poles. And it never caused any particular problems. But I was already struck by the danger arising from the lack of unity in the leading party bodies. At the time I had talks with members of the Presidium and with CPCz CC secretaries, and for several hours I talked with Cde. Dubček. You probably remember, Cde. Dubček, what happened, don't you?
Dubček: I spoke about it at the CC plenum. I said there was no interference, and Cde. Smrkovský said the same thing at a mass meeting attended by 18,000 people.
Brezhnev: In a situation as complicated as the present one there is not so much danger from clergymen as from all those different "clubs" with their political demands. The government should restrict the activities of these clubs in some way.
Comrades, you know about the CPSU's principled position based on full respect for the independence of all fraternal parties and countries. But not every question is a purely internal matter. If, for example, 40,000 people from West Germany cross the border of Czechoslovakia every day without any control, and we have an agreement with you on friendship and mutual assistance and are obliged to defend one another, then this is no longer just an internal matter. If your army is being weakened, that, too, is not simply an internal matter. We rely on your strength just as you rely on the power of the Soviet Union. No one can guarantee that tomorrow a new war will not break out. This is not an internal matter for either side, it is our common affair as communists and Leninists. We, of course, can speak about committing errors and rectifying them, but in doing so we must not forget our main aims. And in your country, in Czechoslovakia, one already finds "officials" who proclaim to the whole world that Marxism-Leninism is an "outmoded dogma", that "Marx and Lenin understood nothing about agriculture," and so on and so on. And after all, your papers are also read by Soviet citizens, your radio is listened to in our country as well, which means that all such propaganda affects us, too.
As regards the rehabilitation of those who were unjustly persecuted, that we understand. We experienced similar things. But to make this problem, today, the main one, means giving extra ammunition to the enemies of the CPCz. After all, unlawful acts were not carried out by the party as a whole, but now they are attempting to depict it in this way.
The situation, I repeat, is very serious. We welcomed the new composition of your leading organs, expecting that once you had corrected the mistakes you would move back along the path of socialist construction. But what is happening now requires an extremely serious reassessment.
For example, on 1 May at some demonstration or other in your country a resolution was adopted concerning Poland. At the demonstration it seems the people did not agree with what was happening in Poland and within the Polish leadership. But this is already a provocation by anti-socialist elements who are also to be found in Poland. This is no longer an "internal matter." To carry out or not to carry out economic reform and in what form to carry it out-that, in the end, is your affair. But there are questions about which communists in other countries cannot be silent. At the moment a vicious political struggle is going on. In these circumstances, communists should close their ranks; nothing should be able to break their unity.
When we began seeing stories that cast blame on the USSR as the instigator of Jan Masaryk's suicide, we particularly reexamined the whole issue to see how matters stood. We searched the archives and made sure that all this was nothing but groundless rumors. /…/
Dubček: Our official information bureau ČTK published a statement by Masaryk's former private secretary, who was witness to the fact that for several days Masaryk was consciously preparing to commit suicide.
Brezhnev: But at first the shadow was cast on us. Such commotion was impinging on the Soviet Union, yet no one offered any resistance to it. This left us in the position of having to act alone, despite the shadow cast on us by the press, radio, and television.
When we express our concerns, we are not making up anything, we are not looking for artificial circumstances. 'The facts speak for themselves. In your country at a May Day demonstration the American flag was waving freely. What does that imply? Does it mean that the Czechoslovak people and the CPCz are now willing to stand by this flag? And I won't even bother to mention such things as the shameful telephone calls that are frequently being made to the USSR embassy, the threats that are made against us, the calls for us "to get out of Czechoslovakia," and so on. All this attests to the fact that counterrevolutionary forces exist in your country and are becoming more active. /…/
Bilák: I understand and share your concerns, comrades. We are underestimating the anti-socialist forces. We have been somewhat blinded by what we regard as our achievements. The biggest mistake is that purely intra-party matters have become a subject of public discussion. The most secret party issues are now being discussed by students on the streets, demands are being raised for an extraordinary party congress, and so on. In our policy one feels certain timidity. And one hears public statements to the effect that everyone in the leadership is in office only "temporarily."
I agree with what was said about the positive aspects of our policy, but that is weakened by acts that contradict it. The enemies are doing everything to prevent the consolidation of our forces; they want to impose methods on the party we do not regard as acceptable. The truth is that we have relinquished control over the press, radio, and television. Cde. Smrkovský may speak to an audience of 100,000, but the editors of newspapers write something else for an audience of 8 million readers. On I May in Ostrava, Cde. Oldřich Černik was carried on the shoulders of marchers, but the editors of newspapers wrote that be "failed miserably."
Dubček: We've cleared up this question. It turned out that the editorial board of the newspaper included the spouse of a person who bad been removed from his post earlier.
Bilák: As long as these people act this way we will not move forward. Their tactics are intended to lull us to sleep, to praise Dubček, and to discredit the others, exploiting the fact that there is no unity in the CC Presidium. And they are all too well aware of this. We intend to discuss the whole matter seriously.
The enemy intends to isolate Dubček so that the working class and the whole population no longer trust him; they want to discredit individual leaders and, through them, the whole party.
Their first am was to remove the "conservatives." Their next aim is to discredit the policy of the CPCz in the 1950s; the issue here is not only one of positions, but also such acts as the collectivization of agriculture. We all know that this was not easy work. We are proud of its results and its historical significance, but we know that when it was carried out, individual mistakes were made. Now the enemies are trying to cash in on this.
After that they intend to take up the events of 1948. One can already hear talk that a minority came to power, that it was allegedly an "undemocratic" act.
At first rumors were spread about the murder of Jan Masaryk, and now, unconfirmed by anyone, there is talk about "intellectual murder" by the communists. Next, attacks will begin against the resistance movement and an "analysis" will be made of the CPCz’s policies in the period leading up to Munich. Communists wiii be blamed for daring to struggle against the "great Masaryk," because in our country today one increasingly hears the slogan "learn from Tomáš Masaryk."
All this is being said in order to bolster a single conclusion: namely, that the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, so to say, was never a party of the people, and that the state should be led by another, very different, party. Today in our country the communist party is being vilified daily. It can be said that in our country nowadays everyone is good, and only the communists are bad. Unfortunately, members of our own party are even repeating this. We know there are various people among them. One has only to remember that after 1948, 100,000 former members of the National Socialist Party entered the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.
We are all thinking about how to strengthen the leading role of the communist party. Every day on radio and television people hear slander against the party. By our very actions, we ourselves are convincing the people that communists are "dirty people." What will young people think about the party?
The greatest danger is that the press, radio, and television are no longer in our hands.
[Recess in the taks]
Brezhnev: Now, let's go back to what's happening in Czechoslovakia. It turned out that all recent events there were objectively aimed at discrediting the communist party, whether you wanted them to be or not. The party's enemies have succeeded in carrying out their evil intentions at this stage. First there was a great commotion, then the removal of cadres got under way. All of a sudden everyone turned out to be bad, including the minister of national defense, the minister of foreign affairs, and the minister of internal affairs, as well as other leading officials. I don't know whether this was necessary, but removing these people undoubtedly cast a shadow over the whole party. Until that time no one bad shown that your foreign policy was incorrect or that things were bad in the army. And these comrades were removed in such a way that it appeared they had done something terrible. Hence, it can be said that in this second stage the party's enemies succeeded in achieving their aims.
Under the guise of democratization the press, radio, and television, which have now eluded the party's control, are seeking to push malicious practice to the limit. I wish to emphasize, comrades that this entire ideological machine is working in an organized way; all are aiming at a single target. They are attacking the party, attacking its cadres, attacking its theory, and impinging on inter-governmental relations with the socialist countries, including the Soviet Union. Insinuations are heard cither about the economic difficulties of Czechoslovakia for which the Soviet Union is held responsible, or about the burden of spending on the army which is the "fault' of the Warsaw Pact, or about some other matter. All this bears the hallmark of being organized by a single center, and there is a great deal of evidence to prove it.
As a result, former political parties are increasing their demands, new "clubs" are appearing, hostile parties and student organizations have been activated, and many other things are going on about which you, comrades, may not even be aware. I think all this is in preparation for a new stage: in preparation for the overthrow of the CPCz Central Committee and its politically and the overthrow of the current leadership. Someone has already remarked that Dubček and Černik are "transitional figures," and that new people must come and take their place. And what kind of people are to replace them? No one says anything about that. Yet it is clear that the organizers of all these acts have their program, and they believe in what they do. They are supported by the USA and the FRG, hut they are being warned: conduct yourselves cautiously; don't give cause for intervention from outside. They want the counterrevolution in Czechoslovakia to come about without a repetition of the Hungarian events.
Whether you want them to or not, comrades, matters are going on in this way; everything is becoming clearer, stage after stage. Cde. Bilák correctly analyzed the specific, serious circum- stances of this trying period.
Your news agency ČTK transmits the Devil knows what, even defaming Lenin and Marx. I don't know whether you actually read such things, comrades. The truth is that drunken peasants at a country fair behave better than tbese journalists do.
In the end, you're entitled to your own assessment of the actions of the Polish leadership, but a struggle is a struggle. This leadership punched the enemies of the party in the nose and honestly said that they would not surrender workers' power to anyone. In Hungary the same thing began with the activities of the writers' clubs, and it ended when they started hanging communists .20 And many hid behind slogans of friendship with the Soviet Union. And in your country the same kinds of threats are being heard in the villages. I don't want to be a prophet, but if you now let things drift along, it might end up with communists being hanged in your country. And not everyone will be saved then. And what then will Comrades Dubček, Černik, Smrkovský, and others say to the people? What can we say? If 1.7 million communists are done away with, then people will ask: And where was the CPSU, why did it not fulfill its internationalist duty?
You consider yourselves the "leading force," but secretaries from the CPCz district branches who've been released from their duties are not being hired by anyone else. They wander around starving, yet the young peacocks with their counterrevolutionary slogans freely gather on the squares.
Comrades, we have spoken about everything here very sharply but honestly, in a comradely way. I agree that in your country there are nearby forces, but you haven't turned to them. Everything happening in your country seems to be like a palace coup d'état. Something is about to erupt in Prague, yet you don't turn to the working class. The working class stands on the sidelines; it has not yet understood what is happening in your country, who is being changed for whom.
Take Procházka; he is a leading force in your society, a leader of your party? The party put its trust in him and Procházka does whatever be wants. And what a mild expression we use -"anti-socialist elements"! Are we communists or aren't we? Why are we afraid?
There are all sorts of things in your clubs.
That is why we express such concern and we think: What is going to happen next? We don't believe that you consciously wish to relinquish the leading role of the communist party and share power with, say, social democrats. We want to believe that you understand this is the most trying period in the history of your state and party, and in the history of socialist construction in Czechoslovakia. Some of the things that are going on in your country demand an official response
from us. Let's say they're trying to vilify us by disseminating all sorts of fabrications about the death of Jan Masaryk. Our conscience on this matter is absolutely clear. We cannot put up with any reproaches. No one in your country is rebutting these attacks.
Dubček: True ...
Brezhnev: And yet all this involves us, as a state. If we give our own theoreticians the right to reply to these "theoretical" explanations that Procházka and his ilk are currently spouting in your country, we'll see on whose side the truth lies.
The question has arisen of the unity of your state, of the unity of Czechs and Slovaks. It is not a simple question, not one to be solved at a moment's notice. In the past, it is true, some harm or other was done to the interests of the Slovaks for no valid reason. At one time we spoke very openly about this to Cde. Novotný. Why, for instance, were they afraid to call Bratislava the capital of Slovakia, what's so terrible about that?
Podgorny: I spoke to Novotný about that on the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution.
Brezhnev: As far as we are concerned, we never persecuted cither the Slovaks or the Czechs. I know Czechoslovakia from long ago and from close up. In the war years I had to cross it, along with our fighters, from Cop to Prague, and I can say with full assurance: Both the Slovaks and the Czechs are dear to the Soviet people, like their own brothers.
I would like our talks about the situation that has emerged in Czechoslovakia to be more open in character. All along we've been hearing soothing pronouncements that things in general are all right, that in two or three weeks things will improve, and so on. Yet events continue to develop there and the situation is becoming ever more tense. The actions of hostile forces are acquiring an increasingly dynamic and organized character. Things have deteriorated so much that at demonstrations American flags are waved freely. This, comrades, is a serious fact when you think that it is happening in a socialist country. We're somewhat surprised, I would say, by the casual assessment of events that you've given us here. We believe that the events at present are being organized and directed by forces linked to the West. The thread that controls them clearly leads to France, to West Germany, in a word, you yourselves know where. Let us speak openly, comrades: Can one fail to emphasize the significance of facts such as the daily travel by 40,000 tourists from the West to your country? We know that in their time these "tourists" carried arms to Hungary in order to supply the counterrevolutionaries. If such matters don't upset you, they do upset the GDR, Poland, and the Soviet Union. After all, we're bound to you by a Treaty of Mutual Defense. We expect that the borders of Czechoslovakia will be protected, yet in reality it turns out that your border with the FRG is open. Don't misunderstand us, comrades. We are not against tourism as such. Tourism, when organized properly, is a natural thing, and it does not give rise to any questions. But when 40,000 people go, without any background check, to a country and travel around in their own cars to military units and wherever they want, this cannot but cause serious dismay. It might well be said beforehand that among these people a good half are Americans or West German spies. No money is being spared for such purposes.
We should very much like things to be as you say they are. We would be glad if Cde. Smrkovský’s announcement is confirmed; if so, then within a few months matters will have been corrected."
As for rehabilitations, it does no good to make such a ruckus about this issue. Instead, you should pursue political measures and an examination of specific cases, and avoid propaganda around the issue. The tragedy is that a purely intra-party matter in your country now has become over a few days accessible to the man in the street. The life of the party, its plans, its errors, and its failures must and should be considered within the party. After the party decides, some of these things are then communicated to the public in a certain form. But to bring into the open the most delicate questions, especially considering the situation that exists in your country, hardly coincides with the party's interests. Yet issues like this have become accessible to all those "clubs" and immature young people. What is a first or second year student? A young person of 18 to 19. What do they understand about politics? There are special organizations for their political education; the Komsomol exists for that purpose, it is intended to educate such youth. And in your country these youngsters are insisting that they be allowed to run the country on the same level as the government. As you see, they want to set up an independent party and take part independently in elections to the National Assembly and to put forward their own program. Is it possible to tolerate such things in silence?
I will tell you frankly, Cde. Smrkovský, I know that you are a strong-willed person, but in support of those general prognoses you laid out here for us, you said nothing about what can be done and will be done in concrete terms.
And I also want to say that I consider it incorrect to adopt all sorts of resolutions concerning Polish matters, the policies of the fraternal Polish party. That party has its own problems and its own difficulties, and it wants to solve them as it believes fit. Resolutions that you adopted in your country, naturally, will not help matters.
Dubček: That was a provocation.
Brezhnev: Of course, a provocation. But just look at how things turned out: the representatives of one or another of these circles sing praises of Dubček in one place, and in another place they demand that he be removed from the leadership. They act in a way that they consider advantageous to themselves. I'm sure that the working class of Czechoslovakia supports its communist party and will follow it. But the whole truth must be told, and it is necessary to remove those who do not support party policy.
I cannot understand: why are you able to remove the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of defense from their posts, yet are unable to decide to remove an editor of a newspaper who is following a line that is not in keeping with the party's policy?
I don't know what mistakes Cde. David made when be held the post of minister of foreign affairs. I only know that he always was a good communist and honorably upheld the cause of socialism. In the years of Nazi occupation be was a member of the underground party organization, and he fought against fascism. By the way, he probably fought with Cde. Smrkovský and, as you see, in that period they were friends. Now for some reason he has been removed. And yet you do not have enough strength to insist that a high-handed editor toe the line. Look how many ministers you have recalled, comrades, and what kind of ministers! I don't know how all this can be explained to the working class, to the party.
It is necessary, comrades, to have a clear view of the purpose of events, to see where they are beading, and in which direction. And now attempts are getting under way to concentrate the attacks on Slovakia and its leaders. Such tendencies clearly exist insofar as people in Slovakia uphold correct positions and so the attacks are directed against them. You are surely well aware of this, even Cde. Bilák is described as one of the conservatives.
Bilák: They're already writing that.
Brezhnev: I don't know whether you're aware of it, but your television service bas already put together special programs about prisons. They're only waiting for the right moment to broadcast them. You can well imagine what they'll feature on them. This obviously will be a new blow to the leadership.
Now you're saying that you'll be raising the question of the unjust acts of Cde. Gottwald and Cde. ZápotockýI don't know what happened, possibly some sort of mistakes did occur, although in the end one cannot attribute all the unjust acts, let's say, to Gottwald personally. But to the counterrevolutionaries your accusations come as a gift. This will be still another blow to your party, comrades.
Dubček: The talk about Gottwald’s role in these matters was begun by Cde. Novotný at the most recent plenum.
Smrkovský: We didn't want it.
Podgorny: Then you should have called Novotnýto task.
Brezhnev: I can't imagine that the party was not in a position to restore order. Of course it has the capacity to do that. But at the given moment the counterrevolutionary forces, the successors of the bourgeoisie, are given freedom to act as they please, and they are raging in full force. This freedom of action was given to 1.5 million former members of the once-disbanded fascist and bourgeois parties. It is not the workers who are calling for the overthrow of the CC Presidium. They are not. The workers have never spoken out against Černik or against Dubček or against Smrkovský. Who, then, is speaking out? These actions are the work of forces, which for the moment are underground, and they have in their hands radio, television, the press, and various "clubs." They are the ones who are organizing this work. We cannot have any illusions about the workers. For the moment the workers are only looking at what is going on. You yourselves say that the workers support the CPCz. Talking about the people as a whole does not make things entirely clear. More than half the people of your country, evidently, are workers, and a significant percentage are peasants. The intelligentsia is relatively small in numbers, although it pulls a certain weight.
If you were really to call upon the workers, the picture would be somewhat different. But on this matter, it seems, nothing is being done. I don't know: Perhaps, in the end, it is suddenly difficult to do, but we have the impression that all that could be done is not being done.
[Kosygin and Podgorny give further speeches reemphasizing the points made by Brezhnev]
Brezhnev: The main thing is to decide in what manner the cause of socialism can best be defended in Czechoslovakia. This question concerns not only Czechoslovakia itself but your neighbors and allies, and the entire world communist movement. All of us are ready to offer assistance if it is needed. We ourselves are ready to do this, and because I know the views of Cdes. Gomulka, Ulbricht, Zhivkov, and the others I can say they are prepared for this as well. The world communist movement is looking at the CPCz. It seems to us that as a result of today's talks one could conclude that the moment has arrived when the CPCz CC Presidium should clearly state to one and all what kind of line it will pursue and point out the dangerous phenomena that have appeared in the country, and really explain which of these phenomena it does not support and will struggle against with all means available. This is the only way to defend your honor. You should honestly and directly tell the working class everything and name its enemies. It is incorrect to make concessions and to be reformists; one must truly serve the cause of the party of which you are members. You must be the real leaders of this party. This, if you will, is the only reliable path. To follow that path, you must have unity, courage, strong will, and the support of friends. You must find within yourselves the necessary unity, courage, and willpower. We are ready to offer our support. And if we all help you, that will be powerful support indeed. If we all begin to speak in our press and on radio, openly citing facts and names, that, too, Will be a great force. Now, while we're still discussing all these matters with you, we hear you and we believe you. But if it becomes necessary, we can begin to speak in such a way that everyone can hear, and then the working class Will hear the voice of its friends. But it is better for you to do this now yourselves. That Will be honest and just. If you uphold the positions that were mentioned here, then matters can be corrected.